Norton Rose is adding three partners, including poaching Wilde Sapte partner Giles Brand, and three assistants to its asset finance practice in London.
The firm says asset finance is a major boom area which, over the past 12 months, has increased fee incomes by up to 20 per cent.
Brand, who announced he is quitting Wilde Sapte last week, starts at the firm in January 2000.
He will join Alistair MacRae from Norton Rose's Singapore office, and Kenneth Gray from the Paris practice. They will be moving to the London office later this year.
There are currently 14 partners and 25 assistants in the department.
Head of asset finance, Peter Thorne, boasts: “We have the premium asset finance practice in London.
“We have expanded it and are looking to do so further. Over the next five years we expect the asset finance department to expand by four or five partners.”
Thorne says this is because the asset finance legal market is growing.
He says: “There are developing markets in Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia. World trade is expanding and with that vehicles like ships need replacing.
“Over the past year, fee income in this area for us has increased by 10 to 20 per cent.”
Thorne says the firm's Singapore office is not shrinking despite losing a key asset finance partner.
He says: “Partners go away for a specific period of time. Alistair came to the end of his period.”
He adds that the Singapore office is now in a strong enough position to expand organically and from lateral hires within the country, and that this will now be Norton Rose's strategy over there.
MacRae joined the Singapore office in 1995 after working in the Hong Kong office.
Norton Rose's Hong Kong office closed on 31 March – 12 months after the termination of its 22-year association with the island's largest firm, Johnson Stokes & Master.
Thorne says: “Our joint venture with Johnson Stokes & Master was terminated and under its terms we had to cease working in Hong Kong for three years. We would be in breach of contract if we did do. But we will be straight back in there on 31 March 2002.”
Gray is being replaced in Norton Rose's Paris office by asset finance partner Alison Baxter who relocated from London this month.
Three new assistants are also joining the firm's London asset finance team.